The Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, at his Abuja lodge, recently, played host to a team of Envioronmental and Town Planning experts from the UN-Habitat African Regional Office in Kenya, led by Dr Naison Maginza Mutizwa, the UN- Habitat African Regional Director. In an information released after the meeting, by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Onyebuchi Ememanka, the thrust of the meeting was in line with the development of some metro-cities in Abia State like, Aba, Umuahia and Ohafia. Also from the CPS’ report, the Abia State Government has already provided the part funding towards the project which he said “is a collaborative effort of the Government of Abia State and the UN- Habitat.”
With the benefit of hindsight,the United Nations Human Settlement Programme, also known as the UN- Habitat, is the UN program for human settlements and sustainable urban developments established since 1978, as an outcome of the first UN sustainable urban development (Habitat 1) held in Vancouver, Canada in 1976. Its head office is in Nairobi Kenya.
The UN-Habitat is a United Nations agency that works towards a sustainable urbanisation of human settlements. Apart from her primary roles in Urban planning and design , UN-Habitat, through one of its 3 units, the Regional and Metropolitan Planning Unit(RMPU), also plays key roles in National Urban policies-from “pre-feasibility diagnostic development” to the implementation, monitoring and tracking process. RMPU also helps the regional, metropolitan and city regions in the planning and development of “corridors”, “clusters” and systems of cities as well as the promotion of a green economy, smart city approach and urban- rural linkages, not excluding the spatial planning framework at metropolitan cities.
Indeed urbanisation presents some of the most significant opportunities as well as challenges in today’s world. Although cities are centres for economic growth and developments it, however, faces demographic, environmental, economic and social challenges that can mar the esctatics of any city if not properly managed.
The collaboration of the Abia State Government and the UN- Habitat is, therefore, timely and in tandem with the United Nations Agenda for sustainable development and sustainable development goal 11, which includes “to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” It will provide the desired opportunity to redesign or re-modify the cities of Aba and Umuahia in order to cushion the adverse effects of urbanization.
The adoption of the new Urban Agenda by the UN in 2016 has resulted in national, state and local governments, around the world, embarking on a transformative path towards making SDG11 a reality. That is the path Governor Ikpeazu has taken.
Apart from the way-forward meeting with the UN-Habitat team, Governor Ikpeazu has also, just few days ago, re-affirmed his determination to change the face of Aba and Umuahia.Tough decisions like procuring waste disposal compactors, declaring a state of emergency on Envioronmental Sanitation in Aba and Umuahia,unbundling of ASEPA and the sack of the non-performing GM of ASEPA,Mr Apugo, are pointers to the fact that Governor Ikpeazu is committed to transforming Abia State.
By meaningfully engaging all stakeholders and taken the lead in sanitising Abia, Governor Ikpeazu has proven, once again, that he has the ability to harness transformational changes that are capable of improving the lives of the inhabitants of Aba and Umuahia metropolis.
Regardless, Abia State, in many context, lack the capacity and the tools needed to address all the challenges posed by urbanisation, hence, the expertise that, a renowed International Agency, UN-Habitat, provides.
Ogoni Clean-Up: MOSOP Decries Slow Pace Of Work
The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), has warned of another round of crisis in Ogoniland, if the Federal Government does not fast-track the cleanup process.
President of MOSOP, Legborsi Pyagbara who dropped the warning at the just concluded 24th Ogoni Martyrs Day celebration in Port Harcourt described the pace of the clean-up process as frustrating.
Pyagbara who also described the environmental crisis in Ogoniland as a huge humanitarian disaster said the slow nature of the exercise is not a reflective of the humanitarian response.
“The slow nature of the current efforts are not reflective of a humanitarian response and is becoming for more frustrating and have the capacity to ignite a new round of conflict in Ogoniland if nothing is done immediately.
The MOSOP president also reminded the Federal Government that Ken Saro-Wiwa and to other Ogoni martyrs laid down their lives because of the environmental pollution of Ogoniland.
According to him, “while MOSOP appreciates the efforts of the government to end the environmental nightmare in Ogoni, the intervention approach must be seen from the perspective of a humanitarian response to a dying community which would require that administrative structures and bottlenecks be removed to speed up actions and activities.
“Judged against other humanitarian interventions going on in the country such as the North-East intervention in which new houses and infrastructures are springing up on a daily basis without noise-making and publicity stunts associated with the Ogoni intervention, we fear that the manacles and vestiges of discrimination for which these heros laid down their lives are still with us” he said.
Also speaking, the representatives of Hydrocarbon Pollution, Remediation Project (HYPREP) at the occasion, Isa Wasa, said HYPREP is determined to fulfill the key demand of the Ogonis which is environmental cleanup.
Isa Wasa who represented Marvin Dekil, HYPREP coordinator at the event said 39 Ogoni youths are being trained in Health Safety and Environment, while Ogoni scientists have been flown to Geneva for further training in environmental remediation.
He said the commission is engaging various stakeholders in Ogoniland with a view to providing potable drinking water to Ogoni communities.
Group Partners Rivers Varsity On Climate Conservation
A Non Government Organization, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) says it will partner the Rivers State University (RSU), Port Harcourt on Youths Development.
To this end, one-day seminar and summit tagged “National Climate Action Youth Dialogue” was held at the university with the theme: Unlocking Youth-Driven Climate Action in Nigeria” which targeted at the youths especially, secondary schools was aimed at enlightening them on how to conserve protect the climate and environment at large.
Speaking at the occasion, ,the Chairman,Rivers State Assembly House Committee on Education Hon. Ahiakwo Christian reminded the students whom he described as ‘the young ambassadors and protectors” of the environment on how important it is to maintain a conducive and provide clean and healthy environment for all to live
Hon. Ahiakwo who was House Committee chairman on Environment in the Rivers State House of Assembly thanked the organizers for the summit and described it as first of its kind
The lawmaker further explained that most of the abuses evident in our environments affect our climate negatively, such as burning of papers, oil flaring, burning of large amounts of refuse, condemned tyres, rubbers, adding that such acts weaken the ozone layers (O3) which protects the earth from direct sun- light.
He said our climate and environment could be protected by planting of trees, like Ethiopia where the youths planted over 350millions trees; a recycling process,, and burying of materials that can decay and become manure.
Stakeholders Bemoan Challenges Of Handwashing Practices
Stakeholders in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector have bemoaned the challenges of hand washing practices with soap in the country.
Mr Emmanuel Awe, the Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation in the Ministry of Water Resources said this while declaring open the Nigeria Handwashing Roundtable meeting on Wednesday in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by the National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS) with support of the Global Handwashing Partnership and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
The meeting was aimed at reviewing the challenges and how to effectively create awareness on the practice of hand washing with soap.
“In the WASH sector, sanitation is often seen as the orphan, receiving little attention and funding.
“But much more so is hygiene, which is indicated under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) six as availability of hand washing facilities with soap and water.
“Hand washing with soap is considered as an affordable, accessible “do-it-yourself” vaccine for sanitation and hygiene related diseases like diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever among others that are prevalent in our communities.
“It is estimated to cut death from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by a quarter. It also helps to ensure the sustenance of effort to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) which are endemic in some communities,” he said.
Awe said in Nigeria, about 100,000 children under the age of five die annually due to diseases caused by poor sanitation and unhygienic practices, which about 33 per cent of the children are stunted, limiting their mental development.
The director said according to the 2018, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) Report, national access to basic hygiene services was 21 per cent with an estimated 150 million people lacking access.
“In schools and health care facilities, access to basic hygiene is 28 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, while only five per cent of public places such as markets and parks have hygiene facilities.
“The absence of WASH facilities, including hand washing stations in schools, healthcare facilities and workplaces are equity issues for girls and women, particularly for menstrual hygiene management.
“The availability of hand washing stations can stop the spread of diseases in these setting. It must be noted that the benefits accruable through provision of these facilities depends on the utilisation.
“Behaviour change is required for people to wash their hands consistently at key times,” Awe said.
Mrs Chizoma Opara, the Acting Coordinator Clean Nigeria, said that the ‘Clean Nigeria:Use the Toilet’ campaign under the National Programme was aimed at ending open defecation by 2025.
Opara said that the campaign would be officially launched on Nov. 19 by President Muhammadu Buhari to improve sanitation services in the country.
“The campaign will have integral component, hygiene promotion with emphasis on hand washing at critical times to break oral-route diseases transmission.’’
Mr Ron Clemmer, the Global Handwashing Partnership, Washington, U.S., said that hand washing was critical all the time in households, schools, healthcare, workplaces and emergency situations.
Clemmer noted that only 19 per cent of the world’s population particularly wash their hands with soap after contact with feaces.
He noted that only 20 per cent of people wash hands before preparing food, while only 31 per cent of health workers practices proper hand hygiene at critical time.
He said “findings shows that lack of hand washing with soap is a global risk present in all regions and it is a reminder that this nexus of risk is relevant to all countries, not just the poorest.’’
Mrs Elizabeth Warmera, a representative of Water Supply, Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Office, Geneva, Switzerland said that the SDG six for Water and Sanitation, hand washing with soap was an essential factor.
She said this contributed to other SDGs on zero hunger, child survival, nutrition, good health, among others.
“This has the power to improve access to education for children, protect the health of patients and reduce inequalities which cuts across other goals,” she said.
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